The Applied Educational Leadership MA is a world-class, fully online programme for middle or senior leaders in schools, colleges, universities, charities, edu-businesses and government. It is a powerful boost to personal development, employability and promotion. Students bring change to their professional contexts through personal study and research, enabled by high-quality dialogue with their tutors and global network of peers.
September 2021, January 2022
Modes and duration
The course is designed to be completed in 3 years, but its modular format allows for flexible deferral up to the 5 year limit.
Tuition fees (2021/22)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.
A minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in any subject, and at least two years' relevant work experience. Word processing, Internet and email skills are all basic requirements of this programme. You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme's study resources are located. (*Full mobile access is not available for all programmes).
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
About this degree
As an applied programme, this MA will improve a student's understanding of educational leadership theory, enable them to apply it to their own working environment, and to undertake research in their settings. It will foster students' continuing professional development, allowing them to consider issues related to the policy context of education. It will also give them the chance to think through, apply and evaluate strategies for leading change.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Applied Educational Leadership.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
- Leading and Managing Educational Change and Improvement
- Leadership for the Learning Community
Students choose two of the following:
- Developing Personal Leadership Skills
- Exploring Educational Policy
- Finance and Resource Management
- Values, Vision and Moral Purpose
Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.
All students submit a dissertation of 15,000 words.
Teaching and learning
This online programme allows flexible study around other commitments. Students share their skills and experience with peers, supported and directed by tutors. In-depth guides are provided for each module, containing readings, outlines, commentary and activities supported on the Moodle site. Students are assessed through written assignments and blogs.
The AEL MA programme is built around personal study supported by online dialogue and messaging. There is no face-to-face teaching, and students are never required to be online at a particular time. Tutors give extensive feedback on draft assignments, as well as responding to and evaluating students' online contributions to dialogue. During the dissertation year students are supported by both the module tutor, who supports generic research and study skills, and a supervisor, who helps them develop and write up a research project. Recommended study time is around 10 hours per week.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
- Tuition fees, stipend, flights (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Graduates of this programme work across a broad range of areas. Some are working as senior and middle leaders in education institutions worldwide, while others have jobs as government ministers and advisers. Graduates can also be found working as local government leaders and consultants. An increasing number work in or start edu-businesses. Many AEL students gain promotion during the programme as it offers evidence of their dedication to personal and professional development.
The programme links rigorous academic content to practical application throughout. Students develop skills in leading staff, working with teams, increasing motivation, leading change, assessing research claims and developing research-engaged institutions. Wider philosophical and value stances are explored, enriched by informed professional perspectives from a diverse global cohort. This leaves students better prepared for a wide range of professional contexts in changing times.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The Department of Learning and Leadership's excellent reputation stems from the quality, depth and breadth of its research and development work, and from its promotion of educational leadership both nationally and internationally.
The department is at the forefront of developing research, new knowledge and publications for and about leadership and learning. This informs the content of the AEL course.
AEL has an outstanding team of tutors with long experience as educational leaders and researchers in the field.
Department: Learning & Leadership
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
There is no application fee for this programme.
Who can apply?
This programme is suitable for educational professionals who may be based in the UK or anywhere in the world and who are likely to be educational leaders or managers in a variety of settings.
- September 2021 entry
- 30 July 2021
- January 2022 entry
- 12 November 2021
AEL has two starting points per year, in September and January. Please note that this programme requires that applicants have experience of educational leadership and are in a leadership position during their studies. Students with a strong application but not meeting all criteria can make their case in the personal statement.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Applied Educational Leadership at graduate level
- why you want to study Applied Educational Leadership at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
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